Mindful Eating--Can We Do It--Yes We Can!

Mindful eating is essentially a learned ability involving paying attention and therefore being aware of our behaviors, responses, feelings, observations, and inclinations surrounding our feeding practices. As we all know, feeding is essential for life; however, we are extra ordinarily blessed that feeding can be quite pleasant and pleasureful—but sometimes that can get us into trouble. Some research has demonstrated that people who score higher on a mindful eating questionnaire also ingest more fruits and vegetables, have an appropriate body composition, and even exercise more when compared to people with lower mindful eating scores. One possible explanation for this may be that the “awareness muscle” can be utilized around actions of feeding and other health-oriented behaviors such as exercising. The good news is that we have free will and we can choose to learn how to become more mindful eaters; the bad news is that we have free will and we have to choose to become more mindful eaters.

One might ask, what types of questions are posed on a valid and reliable mindful eating questionnaire to assess the ability to eat mindfully? That is a great question—the answer to which may provide fuel for the fire to drive us toward focusing on our mindful eating ability. Here are some of the questions with the answer choices normally being never, sometimes, often, usually/always. The notation at the end of each sentence is what to work towards; perfect is not available here on earth, so “work towards” is the operative phrase. The questionnaire explores what we do and don’t notice throughout our feeding life; essentially, if we are able to notice what is going on in and around us, we have a chance to choose a direction. May these questions inform your feeding practices as you slowly and steadily endeavor to take the very best care of you; you are most certainly worth it!

  1. I eat so quickly that I don’t taste what I am eating. NEVER
  2. When I eat at all you can eat buffets, I tend to overeat. NEVER
  3. At a party where there is a lot of good food. I notice when it makes me want to eat more food than I should. ALWAYS
  4. I recognize when food advertisements make me want to eat. ALWAYS
  5. When a restaurant portion is too large, I stop eating when I’m full. ALWAYS
  6. My thoughts tend to wonder while I am eating. NEVER
  7. When I am eating one of my favorite foods, I don’t recognize when I’ve had enough. NEVER
  8. I notice when just going into a movie theater makes me want to eat candy or popcorn. ALWAYS
  9. If it doesn’t cost much more, I get the larger size food or drink regardless of how hungry I feel. NEVER
  10. I notice when there are subtle flavors in the foods I eat. ALWAYS
  11.  If there are leftovers that I like, I take a second helping even though I’m full. NEVER
  12. When eating a pleasant meal, I notice if it makes me feel relaxed. ALWAYS
  13. I snack without noticing that I am eating. NEVER
  14. When I eat a big meal, I notice if it makes me feel heavy or sluggish. ALWAYS
  15. I stop eating when I’m full even when eating something I love. ALWAYS
  16. I appreciate the way my food looks on my plate. ALWAYS
  17. When I’m feeling stressed at work, I’ll go find something to eat. NEVER
  18. If there’s good food at a party, I continue eating even after I’m full. NEVER
  19. When I’m sad, I eat to feel better. NEVER
  20. I notice when foods and drinks are too sweet. ALWAYS
  21. Before I eat, I take a moment to appreciate the colors and smells of my food. ALWAYS
  22. I taste every bite of food that I eat. ALWAYS
  23. I recognize when I’m eating and not hungry. ALWAYS
  24. I notice when I’m eating from a dish of candy just because it’s there. ALWAYS
  25. When I’m at a restaurant, I can tell when the portion I’ve been served is too large for me. ALWAYS
  26. I notice when the food I eat affects my emotional state. ALWAYS
  27. I have trouble eating ice cream, cookies, or chips if they’re around the house. NEVER
  28. I think of things I need to do while I am eating. NEVER